Cognitive impairment among LTC residents unfairly scored, study says

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Nursing home scoring systems do not effectively evaluate residents with dementia, making the scoring system inadequate, a new study suggests.

In looking at statistics from nursing homes in Minnesota, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute noted that low scores are often correlated to a nursing home having patients with dementia. This has more to do with the progression of the disease, investigators say, and should not be taken as a reflection of the quality of care.

"Since quality measures for dementia behaviors are not appropriately evaluated, that throws the entire rating system off," said researcher Arif Nazir, M.D. “A facility with a large number of cognitively impaired residents and with staff members who are trained to help them will receive a lower score than a facility with fewer cognitively impaired residents.”

The researchers recommend that families also consider a facility's patient-to-staff ratio, cleanliness and proximity to family when searching for a nursing home for a loved one.

The study was published in the Nov. issue of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.